It's important to get enough nutrients when you're pregnant to help support you and your baby's health. Take fiber, for instance — this essential nutrient helps promote good digestion. But can you take fiber supplements during pregnancy?
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In general, you should always talk to your doctor before trying any type of supplement while you're pregnant, whether it's a fiber pill, digestive enzyme or something else entirely.
That's because the FDA doesn't require these products to be proven safe or effective before they're sold, so there's no guarantee that any supplement you take is safe, contains the ingredients it says it does or produces the effects it claims.
So if you're considering taking a fiber supplement (like Benefiber) while pregnant, here's everything you need to know, including whether it's safe and the best products to buy.
When it comes to adding fiber to your diet, take it slow: Eating too much fiber too quickly can lead to gas, bloating and cramping, per the Mayo Clinic. Instead, slowly increase your intake to give your body time to adjust.
Can You Take Fiber Supplements While Pregnant?
Remember, it's crucial to talk to your doctor before trying a fiber supplement for pregnancy (or any supplement, for that matter).
That said, there are some instances where taking certain types of fiber supplements during pregnancy can help. The high progesterone levels that come with pregnancy, for instance, can slow down your digestion and cause issues like constipation, per the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Fortunately, fiber can help ease constipation, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, before you turn to pregnancy fiber supplements, it's best to get the nutrient through your food. Per the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, pregnant people should aim to eat 25 to 36 grams of fiber every day.
Good sources of fiber include:
- Legumes like lentils, peas and beans
- Whole grains like spelt, buckwheat and oatmeal
If you're eating a diet rich in fiber (and taking other measures to reduce constipation, like drinking plenty of water and exercising regularly) and are still dealing with digestive issues like constipation, then it's time to talk to your doctor about whether you can take fiber supplements or gummies while pregnant, per the American Pregnancy Association.
They may recommend an over-the-counter (OTC) product to help normalize your bowel movements (more on that in a moment).
Do not take laxative pills or supplements to relieve constipation while pregnant, per the American Pregnancy Association. These can cause dehydration and may trigger uterine contractions.
Can You Take Benefiber While Pregnant?
Benefiber is a common OTC supplement that's packed with soluble fiber. This type of fiber slows digestion, which can help lower cholesterol and glucose levels, per the Mayo Clinic. But is is Benefiber safe during pregnancy?
While OTC fiber supplements can be a helpful tool to ease constipation, taking Benefiber during pregnancy may not be the best option.
Because the product contains soluble fiber, it won't speed your already slow pregnancy digestion. Instead, it ferments in your gastrointestinal tract and may cause symptoms like bloating and gas, per the Mayo Clinic.
Insoluble fiber supplements are typically a better option for constipation relief, according to the Mayo Clinic. That's because they can help bulk up your stool and make it easier to pass.
The takeaway: While Benefiber is technically safe in pregnancy, it may not have the effect you're looking for. Your best bet is to talk to your doctor about whether Benefiber is OK when you're pregnant, and ask for their recommendations about better supplements to try instead.
Can You Take Benefiber While Breastfeeding?
If you're experiencing constipation while breastfeeding, first try to get enough fiber through your diet alone, according to the Mayo Clinic.
But if the constipation persists, talk to your doctor about whether you may benefit from a supplement like Benefiber, and if so, what product and dosage are best for you.
And as always, check with your doctor before trying any supplement while breastfeeding, fiber or otherwise.
Best Fiber Supplements for Pregnancy
The best way to get your fiber — pregnant or not — is through whole foods, per the Mayo Clinic.
But if you're eating enough fiber and still experiencing constipation or other digestive issues, some fiber supplements are better than others.
For instance, supplements that contain mostly insoluble fiber are typically better at relieving constipation, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Metamucil is a common OTC product that your doctor may recommend, per the Mayo Clinic. It contains psyllium husk, a naturally occurring fiber from the Plantago ovata plant that contains both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Psyllium has been shown to relieve constipation, and is generally considered a pregnancy-safe fiber supplement when taken in proper doses, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
- American Pregnancy Association: "Constipation in Pregnancy"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Blond Psyllium"
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: “FDA 101: Dietary Supplements”
- University of Rochester Medical Center: "Pregnancy: How Your Digestion Changes"
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans"
- Mayo Clinic: "Mayo Clinic Q and A: What’s the best way to boost your fiber intake?"
- Mayo Clinic: "Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet"